Stanford has been using its own unique PEARL (Process for Early Assessment, Resolution and Learning) program to immediately admit fault when surgical or medical malpractice occurs at its facility. Beyond just saying “I’m sorry”, PEARL also makes attempts to explain why and how the mistake happened to gain a better understanding of the event so that it may be prevented in the future. In cases where the consequence of the error is severe or could be permanent, PEARL also provides monetary compensation to the patient. As this program gains in popularity, Stanford continues to avoid having to go through litigation and civil lawsuits. Is this upfront approach to accountability benefitting them and their patients, or causing more harm than good?
Surprising Honesty from a Medical Facility
After PEARL began in 2009, Stanford Hospital saw a drop in the number of lawsuits filed against it for medical malpractice by 50%; the indemnity costs in cases that paid out to patients were also remarkably lower, 40% so on average. At a cursory glance, those numbers show that hospitals are spending and rewarding less money per incident, a result that is inarguably beneficial to them. But they also argue that it is good for everyone because admitting a mistake and taking steps to outwardly investigate it allows for prevention in the future. It is also creating a positive work environment among hospital staff because they can report problems or errors without fear of immediate punishment. Furthermore, in most cases, the apology offered through PEARL cannot be seen as an admission of guilt should any later trial arise. Even though costs given to patients through PEARL were generally lower than when a settlement was rewarded in court, patients are still permitted to file a lawsuit rather than accept the compensation from the hospital. Stanford’s medical facility, and many other hospitals who use or are preparing to use a system similar to PEARL, want to make it clear that being upfront and honest with patients is in everyone’s best interests. At Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A., we think this is a step in the right direction – hospitals should never intentionally hide their liability when they know better. However, we want to stress the importance of assessing and utilizing all of your legal options after you have been hurt by surgeon negligence. With the help of our Toledo personal injury attorneys, we can build you a case and claim that pursues the full amount necessary for you to recover comfortably. If you have already been offered a settlement through a hospital’s apology program, we can also review it to determine if it is satisfactory. Call us today at 419.318.0772 for more information or to request a free case evaluation.